Prepare to ration oil and gas, Labour tells ‘complacent’ government

Prepare to ration oil and gas, Labour tells ‘complacent’ government
‘There’s a lot of complacency in this country about the relative lower exposure to Russian gas that we have’

Labour is urging the government to prepare to ration oil and gas as the Ukraine war deepens the energy crisis, accusing ministers of “complacency”.

Germany, Austria and the Netherlands are among European countries considering restrictions on supplies, because of their heavy dependence on Russian energy.

Asked if the UK should “do the same”, Jonathan Reynolds, Labour’s shadow business secretary replied: “We should be making those plans”.

He told the BBC: “The government should be preparing, not necessarily in public, for that situation. There’s a lot of complacency in this country about the relative lower exposure to Russian gas that we have.

“We should bear in mind that part of the supply that comes to this country from, for instance, Norway – or from the liquefied natural gas that goes into the terminals – that is partly because Russian gas is fulfilling the demands of central Europe.”

But the transport secretary Grant Shapps quickly insisted rationing will not be needed, saying: “ It’s not the route that we want to go down.”

Mr Shapps ruled it out as he opposed an expansion of onshore wind turbines, exposing government splits ahead of a long-delayed “energy independence plan”.

The renewable energy source is “an eyesore” that creates “noise problems” and the current effective block on construction should be kept in place, he said.

The UK announced last month that it will end Russian oil imports by the end of the year, while “exploring options” to end gas imports as well, to punish it for the Ukraine invasion.

Boris Johnson has urging EU allies to follow his lead, a task much tougher for the EU, which depends on Russia for 40 per cent of its gas and around a quarter of its oil.

However, The Independent revealed Rishi Sunak’s warning that the UK will suffer a £70bn economic hit and be plunged into recession, if Europe acted now – underlining the continent’s independence.

Mr Reynolds spoke out as he said the government’s energy plan must not be “simply shopping from one authoritarian regime to the next for fossil fuels”.

He called for a “long-term plan on renewables or nuclear and energy efficiency that would make the difference”.

“Looking at the images coming out of Ukraine right now, I don’t think we should be talking about going back to business as usual where we just buy large quantities of fossil fuels,” the shadow business secretary said.

But, asked if he considered rationing oil and gas a “good idea” for the UK to explore, Mr Shapps replied “No, I don’t.”. Asked if he can rule it out “completely”, he said: “Yes, I can.”

Earlier, attacking an expansion of onshore wind turbines, he argued” “They sit on the hills and can create something of an eyesore for communities.”